Los Angeles, California


I used to study with an honest-to-God model for a finite math class in California. One day I told her about a family friend who performed at a comedy club in LA and she wanted to go. We went one Saturday and got dinner before at the place next door, Amalfi. They gave us a choice of “dining room” or “cafe” which was the front of the restaurant. We shrugged, said “dining room?” and we were promptly escorted to a dark corner booth in the most romantic dining area I’d ever seen. We sat on a wrap-around booth complete with plush pillows and we cracked up about our “date.” And then we ate risotto and drank wine. And it really felt like a date. Order risotto if they have it. My leekand mushroom lamb medallion risotto was inspired by it but will always fall short.

Joan’s on Third
I used to read Mindy Kaling’s blog (before the web address expired) about all the items and foods she loved most. She raved about Joan’s on third and once I tried the cupcakes, I knew why. They have deli food but they have deli food in its best possible incarnation. It’s a bit expensive for what it is, but it’s delicious and fresh and packable. Pack a picnic lunch (with a chocolate cupcake-no arguments) and drive up to Griffith Observatory for a picnic lunch. Think about the universe. Lament Pluto’s downfall. Gaze at the smog. Maybe skip the deep breaths.

Mani’s on Fairfax
Just around the corner from the Grove and the Farmers’ Market (where you can also get amazing food from all different cuisines) is Mani’s on Fairfax. They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options and apparently some famous people go there. I guess I don’t have lots to say. It wasn’t Amalfi or anything, but it’s a cafe/deli. Go there for breakfast and coffee before your lunch at Joan’s on Third or the Farmer’s Market.